The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Friday afternoon to advance the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the full Senate.
The vote comes one day after Kavanaugh and the woman who has accused him of sexual assault, Christine Blasey Ford, each delivered emotional testimony on Capitol Hill. However, Republican Sen. Jeff Flake said that he would not vote yes on a motion to proceed with the confirmation process unless it is delayed with an FBI investigation time-limited to one week.
As CBS News’ Nancy Cordes reports, this is significant because, assuming all Democrats vote no, Republicans can not afford to lose more than one of their own senators on the floor. Flake might not take this step without an understanding that Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski would stand with him.
Ford said she was “100 percent sure” Kavanaugh assaulted her, and Kavanaugh insisted he is completely innocent.
Flake entered the room shortly after 1:50 p.m.
Flake said that he believed it would be proper to delay the floor vote to allow the FBI to conduct an investigation “limited in time” to no more than one week.
The committee voted to continue to a floor vote in the Senate, which fell along party lines, 11-10.
“This country is being ripped apart here, and we’ve got to make sure we do due diligence,” Flake said. He added that he would be more “comfortable” with an FBI investigation.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who has been a staunch supporter of Kavanaugh, seemed resigned to Flake’s decision.
“Last time I checked, you need fifty votes,” Graham said about Jeff Flake’s proposal. “And somebody’s got to explain this to Trump, and that’ll be my job!”
Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse asked to postpone the 1:30 p.m. vote, after discussions between Democrats and Sens. Jeff Flake and Ben Sasse.
CBS News’ Ed O’Keefe reported that a senator had texted him that “something is up” with Flake.
The meeting was delayed as senators, including Flake and all Democrats, continued to huddle in an anteroom outside of the hearing room.
The committee is set to vote at 1:30 p.m., after senators made lengthy speeches describing why are are supporting or opposing Kavanaugh.
On Friday morning, protesters were kept down the hall and around the corner from the hearing room, but they can be heard chanting, “November is Coming!” and blowing whistles. Some have been arrested by Capitol police.
Before the vote, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, motioned that Kavanaugh’s friend, Mark Judge, should be subpoenaed as a witness to appear before the committee. Judge was alleged by Ford to have been in the room during her assault. Blumenthal acknowledged that Judge had sent a “cursory six-sentence” letter with a statement denying any recollection of the incident. The motion was defeated on a party-line vote.